Wedding Poems: Shelter & Eternity Poems about building a life by Emily Threlkeld Today we bring you the third and final installment of wedding poems, APW style (compiled from your excellent suggestions and my poetry fangirl-dom). If you’re just tuning in now, we’ve got two more poetry roundups here and here, on the themes Gifts and Laughter and Bounty and Permanence. Rounding out the series today we bring you poems on Shelter and Eternity. As a nester and someone who isn’t the biggest fan of change, these are my two favorite themes of the bunch. There’s a primal element to these six poems. Yes, marriage is about building a life, but it’s also about building a home, about making a fire under your own roof and holding up your ceiling together. Next on my to-do list is a wedding reading roundup for prose lovers, so if you have more suggestions for wedding readings that aren’t poetry, leave ’em in the comments. Shelter A Marriage by Michael Blumenthal You are holding up a ceiling with both arms. It is very heavy, but you must hold it up, or else it will fall down on you. Your arms are tired, terribly tired, and, as the day goes on, it feels as if either your arms or the ceiling will soon collapse. But then, unexpectedly, something wonderful happens: Someone, a man or a woman, walks into the room and holds their arms up to the ceiling beside you. So you finally get to take down your arms. You feel the relief of respite, the blood flowing back to your fingers and arms. And when your partner’s arms tire, you hold up your own to relieve him again. And it can go on like this for many years without the house falling. So Much Happiness by Naomi Shihab Nye It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. With sadness there is something to rub against, a wound to tend with lotion and cloth. When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up, something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change. But happiness floats. It doesn’t need you to hold it down. It doesn’t need anything. Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing, and disappears when it wants to. You are happy either way. Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house and now live over a quarry of noise and dust cannot make you unhappy. Everything has a life of its own, it too could wake up filled with possibilities of coffee cake and ripe peaches, and love even the floor which needs to be swept, the soiled linens and scratched records….. Since there is no place large enough to contain so much happiness, you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you into everything you touch. You are not responsible. You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it, and in that way, be known. Habitation by Margaret Atwood Marriage is not a house, or even a tent it is before that, and colder: the edge of the forest, the edge of the desert the unpainted stairs at the back, where we squat outdoors, eating popcorn the edge of the receding glacier where painfully and with wonder at having survived even this far we are learning to make fire. Eternity Love Song for Lucinda by Langston Hughes Love Is a ripe plum Growing on a purple tree. Taste it once And the spell of its enchantment Will never let you be. Love Is a bright star Glowing in far Southern skies. Look too hard And its burning flame Will always hurt your eyes. Love Is a high mountain Stark in a windy sky. If you Would never lose your breath Do not climb too high. From Blossoms by Li-Young Lee From blossoms comes this brown paper bag of peaches we bought from the boy at the bend in the road where we turned toward signs painted Peaches. From laden boughs, from hands, from sweet fellowship in the bins, comes nectar at the roadside, succulent peaches we devour, dusty skin and all, comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat. O, to take what we love inside, to carry within us an orchard, to eat not only the skin, but the shade, not only the sugar, but the days, to hold the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into the round jubilance of peach. There are days we live as if death were nowhere in the background; from joy to joy to joy, from wing to wing, from blossom to blossom to impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom. Married Love by Kuan Tao-sheng, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung You and I Have so much love, That it Burns like a fire, In which we bake a lump of clay Molded into a figure of you And a figure of me. Then we take both of them, And break them into pieces, And mix the pieces with water, And mold again a figure of you, And a figure of me. I am in your clay. You are in my clay. In life we share a single quilt. In death we will share one bed. Photos, from top to bottom, by: Lisa Wiseman Weddings, Gabriel Harber, and Emily Takes Photos. Emily Threlkeld Contributor Emily's first marriage was to her stuffed raccoon Ringo (named for the Beatle). She wore her yellow Easter dress to the ceremony and her mother officiated. She has a BFA in Creative Writing, a cat named after the heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird, and a permanent case of wanderlust.